ALBUM REVIEW: Involution by Martin Del Carpio

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https://martindelcarpio.bandcamp.com/album/involution

Martin Del Carpio is an experimental electronica artist hailing from New York. His music is a unique hybrid of electronica, avant garde, spoken word and musique concrete, as well as occasional songs which he performs lead vocals on himself. Previous releases include 2011’s X album, followed by Goddard in 2013. A retrospective compilation called Lost Illusions was released in 2014, while 2015 saw the release of an experimental music project called Notes From The Underground.

This album, Involution, is a ten-track concept album that was strongly influenced by the passing of his mother and the spiritual/existential questions it raised. Fundamental to understanding the album is Carpio’s belief that we are essentially spirits, forms of energy that survive the death of our physical body, which is reflected in the music. After the short, poignant intro the hard-hitting industrial electronica of Dolphox seizes the attention.

Phosphorus is an instrumental that has a mystical, otherworldly aspect, achieved partly through skilled use of reverb. Gradually a beat emerges, with a haunting piano melody repeated till the end, which creates cumulative power. Alma is perhaps the centrepiece of the album, featuring a spoken word monologue that asks the deepest existential questions of the human condition: “What is behind the stars? What dark invincible sphere lies there?“. It’s an extremely powerful and thought provoking piece of art.

Camera Obscura continues the spiritual theme, recanting a Christian prayer in a whisper over an evocative, mysterious soundscape. Say A Prayer then surprises the listener with sung vocals for the first time. The moving lyrics are about feeling a spiritual connection regardless of belief: “Say a prayer in your heart, even if it doesn’t make sense…”.

Witchery is an unsettling but inventive piece of electronica, reminiscent of the claustrophobic intensity of Massive Attack. This is contrasted perfectly by the hymn-like purity of November (Black Rose). It’s a heartbreaking elegy for his mother, sung beautifully. The lyrics manage to be both dark and uplifting at the same time: “Oh black rose will you sing? For the heart beats no more…”.

The following I Only Want You To Love Me (Letter to the Father) is another spoken word instrumental that is brave and unflinching in exploring the difficult emotions that follow the passing of a loved one. The final song Ashes is, again, a very affecting and beautiful piece of music. It consists of just an a capella vocal, lyrically a sort of spiritual mantra that celebrates his mother’s passing as part of nature’s cycle of life: “I give these ashes back to the earth, to nourish lands and skies above.…”.

Overall, this a unique artistic expression of dealing with grief and the soul searching questions that experience raises. It’s a difficult and emotive subject handled with great sensitivity and emotional honesty, much to his credit. He has developed a musical oeuvre that is very individual, and the eclectic nature of the music is held together cohesively by the central theme of the album. It’s essentially a work of art that will move anyone who hears it and challenges the listener as all good art should do.

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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E.P. REVIEW: there is no cure/they will be the death of me EP by Diveyede

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Diveyede is an alternative hip hop artist based in Seattle but from California. He regards himself as a “Style of No Style” MC as his lyrics are more poetic, contemplative and abstract than what is found in most hip hop. After touring with Rhymesayers in 2015, he began releasing an EP series called The Fallout. He is also now a member of the NW supergroup Oldominion and a founder of the CA trifecta The DynoNauts, and has shared the stage with many artists including Zion I., ill Methods, Mac Lethal and many more.

This EP, there is no cure/they will be the death of me, consists of six tracks. Although he regards his style as “no style”, to his credit he has forged his own signature sound, which combines dark but compelling Massive Attack-esque soundscapes overlaid with Diveyede’s thoughtful, philosophical and troubled lyrics.

First track, midnight thoughts on alki, is a fine example of this from the opening lines: “Staring into the iris of a fog, a beautiful virus….” and the chorus hook, “Bitter cold…I needed this walk, I needed this talk amongst my thoughts….” Second track, i lost my mind in seattle, is more dark and intense with a powerful, gripping performance from Diveyede. The hook is addictively catchy and Nirvana fans will appreciate the lyrical quote in the pre-chorus: “I love you, I’m not gonna crack….”.

The third track, confessional, is brutal in its unflinching honesty and self-laceration (“I’ve cheated on every girl I’ve ever f*****….”) yet still holds out for possible spiritual redemption: “Luck’s always been a lady till karma turned up, and I bleed my guts to the deity up above“. A gripping piece of music, dealing with the deepest themes of the human condition.

Fourth track, phoenix down, maintains the dichotomy of dark and light over a languid, yet unsettling musical backdrop. The chorus imagery hits home pretty hard: “Now she lays down to sleep and if I die she will resurrect my life….”. I could be mistaken, but this track could be about one of his major influences Eyedea, who tragically died in his sleep and was discovered by his mother.

The Fifth track, catacombs, is more aggressive and hard hitting, with a punchy lyrical delivery that brought to mind the track Ill Manors by Plan B. The wordplay and verbal gymnastics involved showcase Diveyede’s obvious gift as an original MC. It’s also where we get the EP’s title.

Final track, black winter, completes the musical journey as a ‘descensus ad inferos’ (descent into hell), with a haunting piano melody underpinning a bleak but captivating depiction of a troubled soul wrestling with his demons: “This is my black winter, the cold whispered to my soul and I let her...”.

Overall, this is a very fine EP that packs a considerable punch in terms of lyrical depth and musical force. His uniquely poetic yet urbane style sets him apart from the great majority of his hip hop contemporaries and deserves to be regarded as a serious artist with a lot to say about life and being human. In short, he shows that hip hop can make for great art.

 

VERDICT =  9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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